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9th of October 1970

It was on this day that the RFB/Grumman American Fanliner made its first flight.

Fanliner, Prototype #1

The Fanliner was an experimental aircraft from the early '70s developed by the German company Rhein-Flufzeugbau (RFB)and the American general aviation manufacturer Grumman American. The roots of the Fanliner can be traced back to the decade before when RFM Technical Director Hanno Fischer experimented with ducted fans on modified gliders, with good results. Based on these results RFB started developing a two-seater aircraft with jet-like handling qualities, the RFB Fantrainer. With limited interest in the Fantrainer RFB stated developing a lightweight aircraft with a double roll, firstly as a testbed for the ducted fan principle for the Fantrainer, and secondly as a testbed for the aircraft, with the idea to develop it as a General Aviation aircraft. Grumman and RFB joined forces so that parts from Grumman could be used in the Fanliner. The first prototype flew made its first flight on this day in 1973. The mid-wing two-seater had a fixed landing gear and gullwing doors gave access to the cockpit with dual controls. The wings and horizontal stabilizer were taken from a Grumman American AA-1. As a power source, a water-cooled Audi NSU Wankel engine that provided 114 hp was installed behind the cockpit which drove the ducted fan, Later during the program, the engine and the directly driven fan were replaced by a stronger engine (150 hp) and a geared fan. After several combinations of gearboxes and fans were attempted, the final design was a three-bladed propeller via a reduction gear.

Fanliner, Prototype #2

A second prototype flew for the first time on the 4th of September 1976. Its wings and horizontal stabilizer were, like the first prototype used from a Grumman design, this time the Grumman American AA-5. Also, the fuselage was redesigned and became more streamlined. The radiator, which was in the nose of the first prototype, was moved to the rear of the fuselage. A 150 hp engine also powered this aircraft.

With the second Fanliner prototype flying, RFB decided not to start production of the aircraft, as it had received an order for two prototypes of the Fantrainer from the German military. Specifications for the Fanliner, Prototype #1

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two

  • Length: 6.10 m (20 ft 0 in)

  • Wingspan: 7.45 m (24 ft 5 in)

  • Height: 2.03 m (6 ft 8 in)

  • Wing area: 9.30 m2 (100.1 sq ft)

  • Aspect ratio: 6.0:1

  • Empty weight: 520 kg (1,146 lb)

  • Max takeoff weight: 750 kg (1,653 lb)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Audi NSU Ro 135 Wankel engine, 85 kW (114 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 220 km/h (140 mph, 120 kn) at sea level

  • Cruise speed: 180 km/h (110 mph, 97 kn)

  • Range: 660 km (410 mi, 360 nmi)

  • Rate of climb: 3.3 m/s (650 ft/min)

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